The Garden City Telegram
3/23/2014
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

CAPE help

Local input will benefit behavioral health project.

It can be an uncomfortable subject, and often in the spotlight only after a serious crime or other tragedy.

But when it comes to mental health — or, more appropriately, behavioral health — efforts to better understand and address the health concerns demand ongoing discussion and attention in communities.

To that end, count Finney County among 10 communities nationwide poised to be contributors to an important health-care endeavor.

The nationwide project — Community Assessment and Education to Promote Behavioral Health Planning & Education (CAPE) — will provide resources for local decision-makers, with the hope of helping community leaders gain a better understanding of behavioral health concerns in the area.

Behavioral health has become an all-encompassing term for mental health. Someone with a mental health condition may face a number of issues, such as drug and alcohol abuse, or domestic violence.

The Finney County Community Health Coalition (FCCHC), which identifies and addresses specific health-related needs, will be key in the effort designed to enhance understanding of the wide-ranging behavioral health concern.

The goal of all involved is to identify prevalent behavioral problems and determine how community health data related to those issues is gathered, analyzed and utilized.

Data collected would go into a decision-maker's "tool kit" as a resource to help them make decisions that lead to meaningful impact. For example, how a local governing body might best allocate alcohol grant awards for alcohol and drug treatment or prevention.

Finney County was selected as one of 10 pilot communities in the project in part because of the good work of the FCCHC, which has been effective in working with partner agencies and other nonprofit organizations.

Knowing the FCCHC and community as a whole also have a solid record of dealing with the challenges of a diverse community — communication and educational hurdles, among others — it's easy to see there's much to contribute to the project on the local front.

Finney County will gain much from the community behavioral health project. At the same time, the exercise and sharing of best practices will help others with challenges they face, making it a healthy venture all around.